The Hope Water Project flier hung on my refrigerator for two weeks before I could muster up the courage to pray about it. Run a marathon and raise $1,000 for the Pokot, a group of people on the other side of the world that I would probably never meet? That’s insane. 26.2 miles, that’s also insane. I’m a couch potato, not a runner.
I tried to make up excuses as to why I shouldn’t run, but there was something telling me that I could and should take on this challenge. I tried really hard to ignore the nudge. I really didn’t want to run a marathon, and quite frankly, I didn’t know if I physically could. So I prayed about it. The next day, my husband looked at me and said, “I think we should run the marathon,” and that was the last sign I needed to jump on board and join the crazy adventure of Hope Water Project.
It was the spring of 2013 when I showed up at the first group run at Stony Creek Metro Park. I didn’t know anyone there. I had been attending Kensington since 2009 and struggled to make the big church feel small. I had tried a couple of small groups, but they fizzled out after a short time. I stood there and listened to the HWP leaders tell me that I could do it. The voice in my head kept telling me that I couldn’t.
After some encouragement, we were told to walk or run for 30 minutes without headphones. Ugh…without headphones? How was I supposed to distract myself from not tripping over my own two feet, from not keeling over from exhaustion without the distraction of my favorite tunes? But I followed the instructions and set off along the trail. I was just a couple minutes in when people started jogging beside me, encouraging me and talking to me. The 30 minutes flew by and before I knew it, my first training run was complete. My new friends and I stood around after the run chatting and as I walked to my car, I turned and waved and said, “See you next week,” and so it began.
Week-after-week, month-after-month, I showed up on Saturdays to train with a community of people on a common mission to run a marathon and to change lives. This community of people, who started out as strangers, soon became friends. God knew what He was doing when he nudged me to run with HWP.
It was the fall of 2015 and I was one month from completing my third season with HWP when I got the call from my doctor that the lump I had found in my breast was an aggressive cancerous tumor. I was devastated. I was scared. But I was not alone. I composed an email to my HWP friends asking for prayers. I started chemotherapy two weeks before the Detroit Marathon and I showed up and ran that race surrounded by unconditional love.
Throughout the following months of treatment, my HWP family was right by my side offering support and encouragement to my family and me. I could not have gotten through this storm without the people God so perfectly placed in my life at that time. I will forever be grateful for these people.
I didn’t ever want to run a marathon. I was a couch potato. But when God nudges you to do something, He probably has a bigger plan than the one you can dream up.
God knows the importance of community. He taught us to love our neighbors (even if our neighbors are on the other side of the globe). And His plans are always better than our own. His plan was for me to run, which is why I run.
5k & Kids Run
Join us for the 5K & Kids Run on June 2! This event is a great way for families and friends to come together to support the Hope Water Project. All ages, all fitness levels are welcome. Register here.
If you missed marathon runner Abby Voth’s story of her Hope Water Project journey, check out her recent blog
Kate Donnelly – Hope Water Project Volunteer